Following 2018’s regal and dramatic Ultra Violet, Pantone’s Color of the Year 2019 is Living Coral, an “animating and life-affirming shade of orange with a golden undertone”.
A decidedly more natural color than last year’s choice, you’d be correct in guessing that the all-pervasive and pressing environmental conversation that’s taken place over the past year has played a big part in the Pantone Color Institute’s decision.
“We get energy from nature,” a statement from Pantone reads. “Just as coral reefs are a source of sustenance and shelter to sea life, vibrant yet mellow Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.”
While the color is a poignant reminder of the damage inflicted by global warming on the Great Barrier Reef – earlier this year, scientists reported that 30% of the reef’s coral was bleached and died during a “catastrophic” nine-month marine heatwave in 2016 – Living Coral is a spirited, energizing shade, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute tells Refinery29.
“Even though there is a seriousness – the nurturing aspect of preserving our ocean coral reefs – at the same time there is that element of playfulness that is attached to the color,” she explains. “Coral is a color of beauty and a color that humans are so attracted to. Think, most importantly, of the sunset. It conjures up a picture of some beautiful tropical place, some place you would love to be on a vacation.”
The fashion industry, too, has been inspired by ocean reefs and dreamy sunsets. For AW18, Calvin Klein, Marine Serre and Moschino all sent coral-hued pieces down the catwalks, while this September’s SS19 shows were flooded with the shade. From Peter Pilotto’s satin suit through to Prada’s pencil skirt, via Temperley London’s head-to-toe look, designers have been enamored with Living Coral of late.
Of course, the color has long been a favorite of the beauty industry, with NARS’ iconic Orgasm Blush teetering on the edge of a shimmering Living Coral, while both Zoeva and Huda Beauty have released palettes in the shade. Universally flattering on all skin shades, the warming hue gives life to washed-out cheeks and lacklustre lips.
So what is it about Living Coral that’s captured our cultural imagination of late? I ask Leatrice whether she believes that the uneasy climate – political, socioeconomic, environmental – has shaped the need for a color that is overwhelmingly positive. “Absolutely, I couldn’t have put it better,” she says. “It expresses warmth, that kind of harmony, human interaction and social connection that we’re looking for. I think that’s something so inherent in the human mind. It pulls you in, gathers you in, in such a warm and inviting way that it opens up an avenue to positive thoughts, not negative. That, we felt, was a really vital part of expressing the Color of the Year with Living Coral.”
Lord knows we could all do with a heavy dose of optimism right now, so here’s to being surrounded by Living Coral in 2019, in our homes, our wardrobes, and on our Insta feeds.
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?